Junior sensation Cooper breaks Motatapu mountain bike record

Anton Cooper, riding for Team Pink Pilates took out the Motatapu Speights Summit mountain bike event. Cooper, 16, smashed the course record previously held by Marcus Roy as well as his own personal record.

Cooper's winning time of 1:48:43 beat Roy's old course record of 1:57:47, set in 2008, and his own time of 1:58:28, which saw him second to Roy in last year's event.

Followers have been keeping a very close eye on the talented rider since he finished a credible second at last year's Motatapu, behind five-time winner Roy.

"Last year it was Marcus and I the whole way. This time I decided to go nice and early up that first hill, it kind of suits me that first part, and held it off across the middle bit and then down the hill to the finish and basically this year I rode it all solo," said Cooper.

The Christchurch Boys High School student is the youngest ever winner of any Motatapu event and has had a stellar season.

"I won the national mountain bike champs Under 19, and last weekend I also won the Karapoti Classic, I was the youngest person ever to win that. I was having a good run and then to top it off this one. So I'm stoked." Cooper said.

The 47km high country mountain bike traversed three high country stations from Glendhu Bay in Wanaka through the magnificent Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe Stations which are opened once a year to the public, only for this event.

Iconic Adventures Director, Geoff Matthews predicted faster course times this year and with the weather conditions being ideal for the day, "it is not surprising that the record was broken", he said.

"The course improves every year with upgrades by the station owners and today's conditions were just perfect for competing. Congratulations to all the 3,200 riders for a great race and to Anton Cooper for setting a new Motatapu record!"

Kath Kelly took out the female's mountain bike title for the second year in a row, with a time of 2:20:50, not quite beating her own course of 2:20:05.

Also competing was Olympic gold medalist, Hamish Carter, as part of Team Pink Pilates to raise money for the Pink Pilates Trust, funding New Zealand women recovering from cancer through the Pink Pilates programme. "Supporting women into this programme is a really good cause. 100% of funds raised today will go directly to Christchurch women, to fund them through the Pink Pilates programme." said Carter, a patron of the Pink Pilates Trust.

"It was pretty awesome. My leg got smashed in the last 20km but it was fantastic fun. If you haven't done it before, you have to do it; best race ever," said Carter.

Finance Minster Bill English was riding to support of the 800 competitors who had travelled from Canterbury to participate, and to raise funds for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. He completed the course in 3hr.44m.08s Christchurch-based multisport and triathlon athlete Steve Gurney, who has won the Coast to Coast race a record nine times completed the mountain bike race in 2:12:27.

Gurney was riding to support fellow Cantabrian competitors and travelled down to compete despite having lost his home and all his possessions in the earthquake. He was pleased to see so many riders and supporters had been able to make the trip from Christchurch.

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